FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Top Gun “Maverick” Trained to Provide Service to Healing Veteran
On Sunday, November 10, 2013, Hero Dogs, Inc., Washington, D.C.’s premier organization that trains and places service dogs with America’s wounded warriors, will graduate its second Veteran/Hero Dogs Team – Air Force veteran Ethel Shaner and Hero Dogs Top Gun (“Maverick”). Maverick, a three-year-old golden retriever, will aid Ethel in her recovery by assisting with mobility and dexterity needs along with providing life-long companionship.
Maverick received his service dog training from Jennifer Lund, founder and president of Hero Dogs. As a puppy, he was raised by Hero Dogs volunteer Stacey Niebuhr who taught Maverick his day-to-day behavioral skills, laying the foundation in his journey to be a highly trained service dog. The combination of basic puppy skills training and advanced training provided Maverick with the skills required to meet Ethel’s needs.
“I worked with Maverick and Jennifer for more than 18 months to provide Maverick with basic puppy skills,” Stacey Niebuhr said. “He’s a typical, fun-loving golden retriever but has extra special qualities that will make him a great partner and friend to Ethel. I will miss him but know that he has a greater purpose in life.”
Following Maverick’s advanced training, Ethel and Maverick trained with Jennifer for six additional months. The intensive Veteran/Hero Dogs training schedule ensured their working and personal relationships continued to grow to meet Ethel’s needs.
“I am looking forward to graduating with Maverick and moving on to my next phase of healing,” said Ethel. “It has been both challenging and rewarding to learn to live and work with Maverick. I know he will help me in many of the things I do every day. I am hoping to help him have a great life, too, filled with both fun and service.”
Founding Hero Dogs in 2009, Lund identified the need for a service dog program in the Washington DC region and filled that void by creating the volunteer-driven nonprofit organization. Hero Dogs now provides an invaluable resource for the thousands of military personnel who return or rehabilitate in the DC area. The Hero Dogs model requires two and a half years of training from start to finish for each service dog. Currently, the organization has five dogs in advanced training and will place them with veterans in the coming year. There are ten (10) puppies currently with volunteer puppy raisers and the organization plans to grow its roster of puppy raisers to increase the number of dogs it can train, thus continuing the cycle of giving back to those who risked their lives in service to America.
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About Hero Dogs
Hero Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to provide independence and improved quality of life to our nation’s veterans by raising, training, and placing service dogs (“Hero Dogs”) with veterans who have served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, and who have been wounded or have a disabling medical condition. There is no charge to the veteran for the dog or any associated training.
About Our Nation’s Wounded Heroes
There are 51,303 warriors who have been physically wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 320,000 warriors suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2013, one veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes. That is a 20% increase from 2007. (S. Nardizzi, Wounded Warriors Project, personal communication, October 4, 2013)